Vocalabs Newsletter: Quality Times


In This Issue:

SectorPulse Mobile Phones

By Rick Rappe

This is our ninth quarterly report on the quality of customer service at major mobile phone companies. Verizon Wireless continues to outperform the other carriers in terms of overall satisfaction with the customer contact experience although Cingular and T-Mobile are not that far behind, followed by Sprint.

That said, the best Verizon could muster in this study were "B" scores in Satisfaction and Call Completion. T-Mobile and Cingular scores for Satisfaction are also in the "B" quartile, and even though Call Completion scores are just a few percentage points behind Verizon, they still result in "C"s for both Cingular and T-Mobile. Because of the diminishing number of legacy AT&T wireless customers, we have included them with Cingular in this report.

Customer Satisfaction History

Legacy AT&T wireless scores continue to lag the industry and drag down Cingular's performance. Cingular is trying to convert as many AT&T customers as possible to the Cingular network, so it has no particular incentive to spend money improving AT&T service quality.

Sprint's performance is similar to the others in the percent of calls completed via self-service technology and the average length of a customer service call with Sprint is actually shorter than the others. Yet Sprint's performance for caller frustration has been at or near the bottom in all our studies, and a significant percent of Sprint customers tell us they are less loyal after contacting customer service than before they made the call. We suspect that Sprint has made the common mistake of trying to save money by making it harder to reach an agent--a strategy which often backfires.

Call Completion History

As market saturation is reached, the wireless carrier that figures out how to deliver outstanding customer care stands the best chance of growth by keeping existing users happy and drawing new ones from the ranks of disgruntled customers of its competition.

SectorPulse Financial Services

By Rick Rappe

We have been tracking Financial Services companies for about a year now, and at least two notable trends are clear.

The first is that Washington Mutual (WAMU) continues to garner significantly higher customer Satisfaction scores than other banks. Their "A" grade from the last quarterly study puts their service levels among the top 25% of all companies, and previous scores have them even higher up in the "A" quartile. The best Bank of America or Wells Fargo could muster this quarter were "C"s, and Citibank earned a "D". We also track the online payment service PayPal, which earned a "C" for Customer Satisfaction this quarter.

WAMU also completed the highest percentage of calls entirely via self-service and had the shortest average call length. That's still more evidence that self-service technology works if it is well done and meets caller needs.

The other trend is that financial service companies generally do a poor job of handling customer's problems on the first call. All five companies earned "D" grades for Call Completion this quarter.

Customer Satisfaction History

The WAMU data suggests that conventional wisdom of callbacks causing customer dissatisfaction to rise isn't an absolute. But multiple calls to complete a single piece of business costs any company in both time and expense, and logically, frustrates the customer.

Without a deeper investigation we can only speculate, but perhaps it is the nature of banking where easy issues can be readily automated, leaving more complex problems for human assistance as to why we've seen no improvement in Call Completion, and why caller reports of frustration also remain high.

Finally, at PayPal 49% report the ability to complete their business entirely via self service, but a whopping number (41%) report having difficult reaching an agent, a statistic which we have found has a strong negative correlation to overall customer satisfaction.

Express Feedback

By Peter Leppik

Since the beginning of January, we've been collecting live data with Express Feedback, our new service in which we have live interviewers survey customers within a few minutes of the time they call our clients' call centers.

We're surveying hundreds of people a week, and we've been very successful at contacting customers within just a few minutes (typically less than 15 minutes) of the time they hang up from the call center.

We've learned a lot so far. We've learned that if you catch people right away, you can gather a lot better survey information than if you call a day or two later. We've learned that the survey process itself can turn unhappy customers into satisfied ones. But most important, we've learned that this rapid and personal follow-up really impresses the customer.

We'll be adding more pilot sites over the next few weeks. If you're interested in being one of our pilot sites, please contact me.

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